INDEPENDENCE: The loss of Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving to injuries has left Cavaliers coach Byron Scott searching for offense anywhere he can find it. He has turned over rocks and searched abandoned houses looking for someone, anyone, who can put the ball in the basket consistently.
In the two games they’ve played without their starting backcourt, the Cavs are averaging just 82 points. They’ll again be without both, since Waiters did not make the trip. He remained in Cleveland for more treatment on his sprained left ankle.
After a couple of strong performances by Donald Sloan off the bench in recent days, Scott acknowledged Thursday he has pondered making yet another lineup change. He has resisted for now, meaning Jeremy Pargo will start again at point guard tonight when the Cavs face the Minnesota Timberwolves, but he hasn’t ruled out flipping the two at some point and making Sloan his starter until Irving returns in a couple of weeks.
“I have thought about it because of the way Donald has played the last two games off the bench,” Scott said. “He has played really well.”
Sloan had a team-high 14 points in the Cavs’ 95-85 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday. He has averaged 10.3 points and 3.3 assists in his past three games, which followed a six-game layoff when he fell out of the rotation completely.
Sloan never really did anything wrong. Scott simply liked Pargo’s defense a little more, then Pargo erupted for 28 points and four assists in his first start, Waiters handled some of the point duties when Pargo rested and Sloan vanished.
“I was definitely wondering what was going on,” said Sloan, who constantly talked with assistant coaches Nate Tibbetts and Aubrey McCreary about his situation. “They kept saying, ‘You’re doing great, keep doing what you’re doing.’ Then when Coach went another way, I was like, ‘I need to be doing something else. What are you guys not telling me?’ ”
Scott wanted to see improvement out of Sloan defensively, which he has seen in recent games. Just as impressive, Sloan has seven assists and no turnovers in his past two games.
His recent scoring surge, along with his careful handling of the ball and Pargo’s questionable shot selection prompted Scott to reconsider his point guard alignment.
After his hot start, Pargo has made just 10-of-37 shots in his past three games (27 percent), but his other numbers are still in line with what his coach demands. Pargo has 20 assists and seven turnovers during that same time; it’s just his shot selection Scott wants to tweak.
Scott said Thursday he still considers Pargo to be the better scorer of the two. Pargo missed his first five shots Wednesday and finished 3-of-12. He missed all four of his 3-point attempts and scored nine points.
“Jeremy is taking some shots that are ill-advised and we’ve talked to him about it and we’ve shown him the tape,” Scott said. “He has to do a better job of making decisions, but combined, I thought those guys played pretty well.”